Part III: Metadata and Conclusion
The next step in the digitization process for the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company Land Documents collection involved creating metadata. Metadata is data that summarizes the basic information about other data. In this case, the metadata was an Excel spreadsheet for each sub-folder or folder in the collection. The spreadsheet included basic information for each document in the sub-folder or folder such as title, identifier number, the document’s box and folder, date scanned, and relevant associated subjects. Once the metadata was completed, the scanned documents were uploaded as a collection following the organizational method of the physical collection. The metadata is also included for the sub-folders and folders to describe the basic information about the documents.
There are a couple of things I learned throughout the process of digitizing this collection. The first is the importance of metadata. At first glance, metadata seems unimportant. It simply gives the basic information about the data in question and takes a long time to create. Yet, metadata provides a very important role. When a collection appears as an online resource, it is very hard for a person interested in the collection to find each document’s basic information easily. It would require further searching and consequently more of a time commitment. The metadata provides a simple and fast way to obtain the document’s basic information. Therefore, people investigating a digitized online collection will be able to understand the basics of what they’re looking at without having to commit excess time to learn such minor and basic details. Additionally, I learned about the importance of having collections available online in their digitized form. This particular collection contains information pertinent to a wide variety of research interests such as the development of America as an industrial power, the history of coal mining in Pennsylvania, and the dealings of businesses in the 19th century. Without its availability online, people would not be able to easily access this collection and the important information it provides without physically visiting Linderman Library and viewing the material in the Special Collections office. Ultimately, digital collections allow people to access primary source documents and the information they yield from anywhere in the world at any time.